By ELLA BROWNLIE, AL QUDS AL ARABI
The committee was faced with geographical problems regarding refugee resettlement in the Western Sahara.
The Historical General Assembly 1991 faced a crisis earlier today after the announcement was made that a new, more radical Islamist government had been appointed in Algeria. This regime has decided to deport all refugees from camps within their borders.
Various states reacted to this news in different ways. Some shifted their entire focus to concentrate on the humanitarian crisis, while others remained concentrated on the larger picture. The United States emphasized the humanitarian effect and called for Algeria to reconsider their position.
Several disputes emerged when states were forced to integrate this developing situation into their plans for decolonization in the Western Sahara. Algeria has declared a one-year period for all Saharawi refugees to leave the refugee camps, a relatively short window for surrounding states and the international community to develop the infrastructure to support these refugees in neighboring territories.
A coalition led by France and Saudi Arabia has spearheaded a proposal to house refugees in neighboring countries Niger and Mauritania. They argue this proposal takes into account the unwillingness of Morocco to accept refugees from Algeria who may be affiliated with the POLISARIO rebel movement.
On the other hand the United States and USSR, in a radical, unprecedented coalition are proposing the re-integration of refugees in Algeria into their original territory in Western Sahara, all within a one-year time frame. This proposal depends on funding and support from the World Bank and UNHCR to build the necessary infrastructure.
Immediately after resolutions for the crisis were made, delegates continued to debate practical matters regarding the proposed referendum and its aftermath. Firstly, is the issue of the MINURSO mandate. The US, Italy and her allies support expanding the MINURSO agreement to include wider involvement in the region on an ongoing basis, including humanitarian support.
However Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the African Coalition are vehemently opposed to the expansion and argue that MINURSO needs, firstly, to fulfill it’s first task of holding a referendum in Western Sahara, before it’s work can be expanded to other areas.
These two alliances continue to clash on the issue of voter eligibility in the proposed referendum. Saudi Arabia wishes to grant residency status, without voting rights, to all inhabitants of Western Sahara who have lived there for at least five years and citizenship (including voting rights) for all who have lived there for more than 10 years.
However, the US coalition is arguing that eligibility should be based on the 1974 census, excluding first generation immigrants to the region (mostly from Morocco).
Heated discussion of these issues in unmoderated caucus took up a majority of committee session, as two major coalitions began to form and states attempted to navigate the murky waters of alliances, national interests and political agendas.
The delegate from US discusses a coalition with Germany